Office building for a steel company in Linz
Text: Detail Daily
For an office block commissioned by The Voest, as The Voest steelworks of Linz is affectionately known, it has a lot to say, which it does with simple eloquence. High on the agenda of all western owned, polluting heavy industry, whatever remains of it, is the environment and the reduction of the company's impact upon it. Then there is corporate responsibility, or put in a slightly different way, the expression of power and importance with social responsibility. Finally, there is the promotion of its products. The ranking of priorities on this list may vary depending on who is discussing it.
The political power of architecture, to address a complex agenda, remains undiminished. This was a fact clearly appreciated by The Voest. They took every precaution to get this building right, beginning with a limited competition that saw Dietmar Feichtinger Architects win the right to design it.
The first key move of the design is to bury the car parking and put a landscape over the top. Straight away, the wasteland of steel is replaced by a green space that enables the heart of the building, a metaphor for the company's corporate heart, to be clean, green and connected to a new leisure park for the city that will be built in future. The carpark, now a kind of dirty secret, is not forgotten. The parking garage makes great effort to incorporate natural daylight and ventilation, and might even have a future career as a usable space should carparking be phased out altogether!
The office building itself is a traditional double loaded corridor arrangement that wraps around the green landscape heart. It has a number of social spaces such as atria and other facilities distributed throughout. It is also naturally ventilated as far as possible and has a sophisticated façade providing climate control. The curve of the building shortens its apparent length, whilst the façade’s gold coloured expanded metal solar shading achieves the remarkable and contradictory feat of suggesting opulence and economy simultaneously.
Providing the breathtaking sense of drama that advertises this building and company as something out of the ordinary, and the company products as capable of doing things that other structural materials are not, is an impressive cantilever wedge under which can only be located the main entrance to the entire complex.